Antonio Takes a Look at the Human Brain

Last month, we critiqued one of the greatest brains of all time, Albert Einstein, and chronicled the adventures of the doctor who performed Einstein’s autopsy and “commandeered” Einstein’s brain after his death. (Most people find it odd that a glass jar is home for Einstein’s brain, but is it any odder than Elvis being buried in the backyard next to his swimming pool?)
Here are a few other individuals whose achievements have earned them, like Einstein, “genius” status:
Leonardo da Vinci: scientist, engineer, painter, and inventor of the da Vinci Code. Da Vinci sketched many of his brilliant ideas in his famous notebooks. One of those notebooks contains a drawing of a helicopter – hundreds of years before the first helicopter was built. (Even da Vinci didn’t consider this to be the safest mode of air travel. We know this from his many sketches of helicopters crashing and burning.)
Many of the writings in da VinciÂ’s notebooks are barely decipherable, for da Vinci didnÂ’t use periods or any other form of punctuation, and he wrote backwards (from right to left). Was this backwards writing intended to disguise his ingenious ideas? Modern scholars say noÂ…doing everything backwards was a compulsive habit that Leonardo exhibited his entire life. He walked backwards, wore his pants backwards, tipped waiters before his food was served, etc. (His contemporaries shrugged off this peculiar behavior as the idiosyncrasies of a true genius.)

Christopher Columbus: Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic in search of a new trade route to Asia. Columbus would have achieved his goal had the continent of North America not gotten in the way. But Columbus’ trip was still considered a success, for he proved, once and for all, that the world was round. This was a great relief to early explorers, who could then bravely set sail to explore new worlds without fear of falling off the edge of the earth – although they were still reluctant to sail too far south, for fear their hats would fall off. (From pictures compiled by satellites, we now know the earth to be more in the shape of a Cheetos® cheese puff.)

Galileo: the Father of Modern Science. Galileo believed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system. He was condemned as a heretic by the Catholic Church for this belief, but the Church commuted his prison sentence to house arrest under the terms of a plea bargain: Galileo would be allowed to continue teaching that the earth revolved around the sun, on the condition that he subscribe to Church doctrine that the moon was made of Swiss cheese.

Sir Isaac Newton: physicist, mathematician, and inventor of gravity. One day, while Sir Isaac was sitting under an apple tree, an apple fell out of the tree and hit him on the head. (This was a major scientific advancement, when you take into account that, prior to NewtonÂ’s time, all apples fell upwards.)

It was common in those days for great thinkers like Newton to sit under fruit trees while they were engrossed in deep and profound thoughts. But once gravity set in, Newton, for safety reasons, abandoned his favored apple tree for the softer grapefruit. But eventually, even the pulpy grapefruit pounding on IsaacÂ’s head, day after day, drove the great physicist mad, and he ran away to join the circus, where he established himself as the preeminent weight- and age-guesser of his time.

Lindley Murray: the “Father of English Grammar,” best remembered as the inventor of the semicolon (;). Although he was successful in having the semicolon included on the first typewriter and, consequently, every keyboard up to the present time, he tragically died before he could explain how to use it.

Murray(on his death bed): “My semicolon…it’s for…it’s for…uuhhhh…”

Curly Howard: a brilliantly stupid comedic genius; could take the two-finger eye poke or the tire-iron-across-the-head with the best of them[1]; had the largest repertoire of funny noises ever – “Woo, Woo, Woo, Woo, Woo, Woo!” and “Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk” being the only two I can come close to spelling.

Benjamin Franklin: You may recall from your American History class that Franklin flew a kite during a thunderstorm and received an electrical shock when lightning struck his kite. But Franklin is not remembered solely for his contributions in the field of human illumination. He was also a noted author and statesman…but the real reason I’ve included him in the “genius” category is because he once said (and I’m not making this up): “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Well, great minds think alike – I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Franklin. This one’s for you, Ben. (Belch!)